Sarcoma, Soft Tissue - Risk Factors

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 07/2014

ON THIS PAGE: You will find out more about the factors that increase the chance of developing this type of cancer. To see other pages, use the menu on the side of your screen.

A risk factor is anything that increases a person’s chance of developing cancer. Although risk factors often influence the development of cancer, most do not directly cause cancer. Some people with several risk factors never develop cancer, while others with no known risk factors do. However, knowing your risk factors and talking about them with your doctor may help you make more informed lifestyle and health care choices.

Most sarcomas do not have known causes. The following factors can raise a person’s risk of developing sarcoma:

Previous radiation therapy. People who have been treated with radiation therapy for a previous cancer have a slightly increased risk of later developing sarcoma. 

Genetics. People with certain inherited diseases have a higher risk of sarcoma. These diseases include neurofibromatosis type I, also known as von Recklinghausen’s disease; Gardner syndrome; Werner syndrome; tuberous sclerosis; nevoid basal cell carcinoma syndrome; Li-Fraumeni syndrome; and retinoblastoma.

Chemicals. Workplace exposure to vinyl chloride monomer, used in making some types of plastics, or dioxin may increase the risk of sarcoma. However, most sarcoma is not known to be associated with specific environmental hazards.

Research continues to look into what factors cause this type of cancer and what people can do to lower their personal risk. There is no proven way to completely prevent this disease, but there may be steps you can take to lower your cancer risk. Talk with your doctor if you have concerns about your personal risk of developing this type of cancer.

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